The coal ministry has told a parliamentary committee that it does not have any of the 800-odd original files on the coal blocks allocation to share with it, since they have all been handed over to the CBI. According to the ministry, it does not even have photocopies of any of the files.
This was revealed when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) sought details of alleged irregularities in the coal blocks allocation from the ministry.
The response followed a series of queries posed by the CAG on December 11, 2013 through the PAC, which is examining the allocations. The auditor had asked the ministry to categorically state if there were instances of allocation to a private company without the recommendation of the state government.
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In response to the CAG’s query seeking “complete details”, the ministry gave the names to just three states, while candidly stating: “… This however is not a comprehensive list since most of the files/records have been requisitioned by the CBI and photocopies of many of the files/records are yet to be obtained from CBI.”
A source in the PAC told The Indian Express, “It is a funny situation. Earlier, the CBI had alleged that the coal ministry was not adequately cooperating in furnishing the files needed for its probe. Now the ministry is complaining that the agency has not provided the photocopies of the shared files/records needed by the CAG. This has come as a surprise to us.”
Earlier, in July-August 2012, the ministry and the CBI had a face-off after some files and certain minutes of the screening committee meetings were apparently found missing. The CBI in September last year registered Preliminary Enquiries on the missing files, mounting pressure on the ministry.